What is the Right Heart?

Jessica Reed

The human heart is a muscle separated into four chambers — the left and right atria and left and right ventricles — and divided in half to form the left and right sections. As the heart pumps, it carriers oxygen and nutrients throughout the body while carrying away waste products like carbon dioxide. The right side of the heart is responsible for collecting blood lacking in oxygen and carrying it to the lungs, where the blood stream is replenished with fresh oxygen and waste is exhaled out into the air. Then the blood flows to the left side of the heart to circulate throughout the body again.

The right side of the heart is responsible for collecting the blood that lacks oxygen.
The right side of the heart is responsible for collecting the blood that lacks oxygen.

Known as the cardiovascular system, the heart, lungs, and blood vessels all play a role in circulation. The right heart consists specifically of the right atrium, the right ventricle, and the pulmonary artery. It's essential to remove waste from the blood to prevent contamination and to restore new oxygen to the blood so it can power cells in the body that provide energy. The right heart takes on the responsibility of passing the blood stream to the lungs to make the oxygenation process possible.

It all starts when the heart pumps blood into the body. It circulates throughout the body and returns to the top chamber of the right heart, known as the right atrium. This chamber then pumps the blood down to the right ventricle where it can exit the right heart by way of the pulmonary artery. Located near the top center of the heart, the pulmonary artery carries the blood in both directions to reach both the left and right lungs at once.

Once the lungs have cleaned the blood and restored fresh oxygen, taken in when a person inhales, it passes the blood on to the left heart. Just as it did in the right heart, the blood enters the atrium first, then passes to the left ventricle. Finally, the heart pumps the blood back out through the aorta to circulate through the body. It will make its rounds and return to the right heart.

Common heart problems occur when blockage prevents the blood from circulating properly. This dangerous condition can result in a stroke or a heart attack. Other heart problems can occur, such as irregular heart rhythms or the valves in the heart only partially closing, thus allowing some blood to leak backward in the wrong direction. In rare cases, a person can be born with a heart that is a mirror image of a normal heart's layout. This condition, known as dextrocardia, causes the right and left sides of the heart to be on the opposite sides of where they should be.

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